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'DULF saves lives': Hundreds rally in support of Vancouver compassion club


Hundreds of supporters gathered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Friday to protest the arrests of two members of the Drug User Liberation Front.

DULF had been purchasing illicit drugs – such as cocaine and heroin – online, testing them, and then providing them to a group of about 50 members to take safely.

On Oct. 25, the Vancouver Police Department arrested Jeremy Kalicum and Eris Nyx, raiding their homes, as well as DULF’s downtown office. 

“While DULF’s acts were intended to reduce the impacts of the toxic drug supply, we have always warned that anyone who violates the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act should expect to face enforcement and criminal charges,” said Insp. Phil Heard at a news conference the next day.


On Friday, demonstrators chanted “DULF saves lives” and called on the government to implement a safe drug supply. Nearly 13,000 people have died of drug toxicity and overdoses in B.C. since a public health emergency was declared in 2016.

Nadia Revelo attended Friday’s rally and called the B.C. government’s response to the overdose crisis shameful.

“How is it possible that people continue to die because we don't have a safe supply for drugs?” she said. “I’m from Columbia. I know what it means to criminalize drugs. That means deaths, so we need to prevent that.”

13,000 DEATHS

Martin Steward with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users denounced the raid, adding the province should re-fund the organization. Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed that on Oct. 2, the province directed it to end its contract with DULF, therefore cutting its funding.

“Give DULF back their right to do what they’re doing and to do it safely, the way they have been,” Steward said.

The raids came after weeks of pressure from the Opposition BC United for the government to investigate the activities of DULF, saying in a news release in September that it was “unacceptable that public money is being used to purchase illicit drugs” on the dark web. 

On Wednesday, B.C.’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe weighed in on the group’s actions during a panel that urged the provincial government to "immediately" pursue a non-prescription safe drug supply program. 

“I suppose I would say that if you see somebody in a burning house, you feel somewhat justified to smash a window,” she said.

Kalicum and Nyx have yet to be charged, but Stephanie Dickson, a lawyer representing them, told CTV News that if charges are approved, they will be challenged.

“We know that the facts will show that denying access to a predictable, safe, non-toxic supply of drugs for people who depend on them violates their constitutional rights because it forces them to obtain those drugs from the street, where the potency of them is wildly unknown, wildly unpredictable, and unnecessarily at risk to their lives,” Dickson said.

With files from the Canadian Press Top Stories

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